Updike Disciple Blindsided by TV’s “Eastwick”

It’s a brilliant, crisp fall Friday in Dallas and the State Fair opens today, so nothing bad can possibly happen, but one thing does puzzle me.

I knew I was somewhat detached from the all-enveloping TV culture, limited as I am to the infrequent  cable news  brawl, “Mad Men,” and bits and pieces of Cowboys games, but I’m still amazed that A  TV SERIES BASED ON A JOHN UPDIKE NOVEL somehow rolled out without the knowledge of one of the late genius’s most fervent fans, as witness the extended period of mourning and obeisance on this blog when he died last January.

Guess I’ll have to check out “Eastwick” at least once to see what they’ve done to it. Judging from this quick summary, they’ve preserved the main characters–the three witches and the Devil character played so,  well, devilishly  by Jack Nicholson in the movie.

Will my low expectations be fulfilled? Will I actually sit through the commercials long enough to see if the master’s work has been dissed?

I’ll report back. Who knows? This could tip the scales in favor of my wife, who’s been demanding that we add DVR service for a year now.


Afghanistan: All In or Out, Mr. President

Apropos of Barack Obama’s pending and unavoidable decision on Afghanistan–which he called “the right war,” “the necessary war” and so on at least 750 times during the campaign–NY Timesman Bob Herbert reminds us today of just what a momentous decision it is. And that’s why Obama must be certain, before sending more troops, that we really are in for the long, long haul.

To underscore the point, Herbert quotes John McCain’s preface to David Halberstam’s The Best and the Brightest, that great saga of how so many brilliant people got it so wrong in Vietnam:

“War is far too horrible a thing to drag out unnecessarily. It was a shameful thing to ask men to suffer and die, to persevere through god-awful afflictions and heartache, to endure the dehumanizing experiences that are unavoidable in combat, for a cause that the country wouldn’t support over time and that our leaders so wrongly believed could be achieved at a smaller cost than our enemy was prepared to make us pay.

“No other national endeavor requires as much unshakable resolve as war. If the nation and the government lack that resolve, it is criminal to expect men in the field to carry it alone.”

Unfortunately for Obama, this decision is not above his pay grade. If we’re not in this to win–and it would be nice if we could quickly define “win”–not one more soldier should die in Afghanistan.

Is Acorn “Elite”?

NY Timesman David Brooks makes plenty of sense this morning  analyzing our current vitriolic hatefest  as motivated more by ancient class divisions than by ancient racial divisions. I agree with almost everything he says except. . .

We now have a populist news media that exaggerates the importance of the Van Jones and Acorn stories to prove the elites are decadent and un-American, and we have a progressive news media that exaggerates stories like the Joe Wilson shout and the opposition to the Obama schools speech to show that small-town folks are dumb wackos.

Just one quibble: If the ethically empty and grammatically challenged Acorn people I’ve seen on TV are “elites,” we’re in far worse trouble than I thought.  The full piece is here.

Where’s the Nationally Televised Funeral for This Man?

This old dude? He hasn’t had a hit record in years! And he never got his drank on and  upstaged anyone at an awards show  or cussed out some poor line judge or turned into such a drugged-out wretch that the courts  took away his kids.  So, I mean, what did he ever do, anyway?*


*Answer:  His work saved millions of people in the poorest countries on earth from starving to death. Maybe they’ll watch the funeral in Kenya.